I’ve been a Christian for almost 15 years now, give or take. The thing is, I am not always sure I am a Christian. I am also not sure if the first time I raised my hand and “gave my life to Christ” was really the time I got “born again.” I am not even sure if the second time I did it was the one… or the third time I did it.
I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have doubts. Something tells me that most of you are doubters too, secretly. Yet that does not worry me as much as the fact that many of us can be so sure that we are saved.
But should we be so sure? Can we?
John Musyimi believes we should, and that we can. But he also believes that not everyone who is sure they are saved, is saved. Our certainty must have the right basis, and Musyimi sets out to show us that basis.
In his second book (or his first booklet), John Musyimi, a pastor at Mamlaka Hill Chapel (when he wrote the book), lays out a six-point diagnostic tool that Christians may use to check “whether you are in the faith”. He appeals to his namesake, the Apostle John, for a guideline on how we may gain assurance that we are “really” and truly born-again.
Now, I think what Musyimi is attempting to do in this booklet is quite dangerous. It may easily go either way. Many teachers who have set out to assure Christians of their salvation have ended up increasing the doubts of those Christians, and those who’ve sought to reduce those doubts have ended up shipwrecking the faith of their hearers.
There’s no denying that this is a dicey topic, and one that must be approached with utmost care and wisdom. Fortunately, John Musyimi does just that, to the best of his ability.
The six tests mined from 1 John are real gems:
- Obedience – if you are truly saved, you will keep God’s commandments.
- Affection– if you are truly saved, you will love the brothers.
- Separation – if you are truly saved, you will have decreasing love for the world.
- Faith – if you are truly saved, you will believe in Jesus Christ.
- Holiness – if you are truly saved, you will experience increasing victory over sin.
- Spiritual – if you are truly saved, you will show evidence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you.
I came to a disturbing realization as soon as I finished going through these tests: I didn’t make the cut. Not on all six. For instance, I seriously flunked on test number 2 (affection). I struggle with affection for the brethren. Most of the time, I just don’t like to be bothered. I really have to “push myself” to care, and that is just how it is… at least for now.
Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Furthermore, it’s not that I am doing so well on the other tests anyway. And this is where Musyimi’s booklet proved quite helpful. What if we fail the test? What if we realise that we don’t always obey, we don’t love as we ought, and our battle against sin often seems like a losing one?
Thankfully, Musyimi anticipates those questions, and that is why he is careful to approach the tests with a subtlety that might be missed by most. Throughout the manual, you will find such statements as “inclined to” (help brothers)”, “decreasing love” (for the world), and “increasing victory” (over sin) just to name a few.
These are POSTURE phrases, not POSITION phrases.
The author, like the Bible, is aware that he is addressing men, not machines. We change, and the best change is a growth kind of change. The proof of our salvation is not in where we are in the journey but in which direction we are facing (heading), and Musyimi is careful to point this out.
One last thing, what if we find out that we are facing the wrong direction? What if our love for the world is increasing while our love for the brethren is decreasing? Is this a valid reason to throw in the towel and say goodbye to this “salvation business”?
Absolutely not! It turns out that this realization is one of the best news you could ever receive all your life! As Musyimi puts it, realizing this deficiency in your life is actually “a sign of God’s mercy upon you!”
So take the test and get your heart examined today. Your life may just depend on it.